Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Dallas, Pasadena: all of these warm weather cities host bowl games that draw thousands of people looking to escape the beginnings of winter and bask in the pageantry of college football. Even if some of their names don’t evoke nostalgia – it is tough to get excited about Outback Bowl days of yore – the fact that they host major college bowl games seem pretty obvious.
There are cities, though, that people wouldn’t think about visiting in late December. Yet they too will host an ACC school for a bowl game in the “group of eight or nine” that will determine invitations amongst themselves after the NY6 gets their picks. One city has almost completed two full decades of having an entertaining bowl game and an even more entertaining Twitter account. The other isn’t really a hotbed of college football. The owners of the baseball team, however, saw the game being hosted three hours south and wanted in on some of that sweet, sweet bowl money. They also, likely, wanted to created an event when people wouldn’t normally be traveling to that park to help goose the entertainment district next door to the park. Either way, they join the ACC Bowl lineup. Let’s take a look at them.
Location: Charlotte, NC
This bowl game has always had a corporate name, from Continental Tire to Meineke Car Care, to the most recent iteration, the Belk Bowl. In short, the bowl moved from more national names to names with at least a regional flare, and the department store with the Southern roots held the sponsorship since 2011. That contract ran out, though, and the game needed a new sponsor.
So, of course, now it’s named for mayonnaise.
Not just any mayo, of course, but the best mayonnaise out there on the market. It’s a mayo that you can only get in the southeast, and as a southern ex-pat living in the location of the next bowl game we’ll discuss, I absolutely missed the taste of the white stuff in the yellow jar. Thus, while many people will mock the name, I choose to be happy that the best bowl twitter account gets to speak about mayo for 52 weeks a year. In their hands, creativity will flow.
As for the game itself, the ACC’s opponent here will switch from the SEC to the BIG 10. It’ll be interesting to see if this affects attendance, as one of the selling points for Charlotte was it’s close proximity for fan bases of both. That said, the opportunity to have a Michigan State or Iowa fall into their lap was likely too good to pass up, and as the two conferences only had the one matchup in prior seasons, it’ll be good to have another ACC/Big 10 fight.
Of the lineup, Tar Heel fans are familiar with this one perhaps the most. They’ve only played this bowl since 2002, yet the Tar Heels have been in it four times. They are 1-3 in the game, and their last appearance was surprisingly back in 2013. There had been a lot of thought that they would go there this past season, but a combination of factors sent them to Annapolis instead. Considering that long absence, it isn’t much of a stretch to think they’d be at the top of the list to ask for the Tar Heels should the team qualify and they don’t make it to the NY6.
Location; Boston, MA
After a few test runs via a Notre Dame Stadium Series game as well as a few versions of “The Game” (Harvard vs Yale), the owners of the Boston Red Sox decided it was time to bring late December college football to the hallowed grounds of Fenway Park. I mean, who wouldn’t love to sit in 30 degree weather in seats too narrow to fit a lot of people and horrible sight lines and watch two teams on one sideline run up and down the field?
But hey, there’s the Green Monster!
Yes, you read the last part of that paragraph correctly. Because of the...unique...configuration of the iconic ballpark, the teams will not be able to have separate side lines. Instead, both teams will camp on either side of the 50 and do what they can to keep the other squad from understanding what they are saying. It’ll be one of the more unique setups in college football, and while the actual visiting experience of the game may not be fun, the visuals will be great for TV. In terms of a tourist destination, Boston also offers plenty to see and do for fans that decide to ship up for the game. It’ll be a great chance to allow people who would never have a reason to walk up to the park get to experience a little slice of history.
The ACC will play the AAC in the game, one of the few they have with a non-P5 conference. With teams like Memphis, South Florida, and more, this has a chance to be one of the better games on the bowl slate. However, the chances that Carolina ends up here in 2020 may actually be lower than you’d think. Assuming the season happens as scheduled, the Tar Heels are slated to play Boston College, which is about five miles up on Commonwealth Avenue. Organizers might be leery to bring the team back to the city this season, but as someone who watched many Boston College basketball games turn into the Smith Center north, there’s a pretty decent chance the Tar Heels will end up here sooner or later. There is a surprisingly strong Tar Heel base in that area of the country, which should lead to a good turnout whenever they are invited.
Next week, we take a look at another new kid on the block, and then dig in on another returning favorite.